Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Weekend BLECH

If you're wondering why I have not posted any exciting expoloits from my Memorial Day weekend, it's because I didn't have any. I'm sick. I have a horrible cold that started on Saturday morning and that continues to plague me, full-throttle, today. My head feels like someone poured glue into my ears until it overflowed and now everything that was already in my head is being pushed out and is trying to escape through my nose and eyes. My glands are swollen, I can barely hear, my nose is red, my eyes are bloodshot, and my head is disproportionately hot in comparison to the rest of my body. I don't have a temperature but I feel like I should have. This, coupled with the lacklustre, blustery, wet weather meant no fun for BritRant on Memorial Day weekend.

Boooooooooo Hisssssssssssssss.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

He won! I won! He won! I won!

Whoooooooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! This HARDLY EVER happens to me. David Cook, my favorite in American Idol, actually took the whole competition last night - by 12 million votes! Not only did I want him to win because I liked him, I had actually pulled his name out of a hat and therefore won a pool at Joss' work. (Ok, Joss physically did the pulling but he was my pick.) We went to a party at Hubbie's boss' house to watch the finale and I have to tell you I was flabberghasted when Seafoam said "...Cook". Hubbie and I just sort of stared at each other in disbelief - we had really convinced ourself that Simon had handed it to Archuletta on a plate the night before. (Something Mr. Cowell had to back-pedal on before the announcement -- that should have been a clue in itself.)

So, I eat my hat on my previous post, and gladly. Although I'm still not entirely convinced that he wanted to win the whole thing. I guess we'll never know.

Now I just pray, pray, pray that they don't have a bunch of Archuleta-type ballads lined-up for his first album. I would hate to see him re-packaged into a candy-pop, teen sensation. Hopefully he can do in rock/alternative what Carrie Underwood did in Country.

In tribute to America finally finding a true talent, I'm posting not his finale song (the pre-requisite song about "this moment") but his rendition of Billie Jean, the moment when everyone's eyes just opened-up and we all thought "Oh my God, there's actually a real star on the stage."


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

He's going for second, BEST

Last night was the American Idol finale and my favorite, David Cook worked hard.... for second place. I believe this was totally intentional and aparently I'm not the only one. "What is your new foot smell?" blog, also agrees

There is no way that Cook, who early-on demonstrated an uncanny nack (and some considerable balls) for picking and re-arranging popular pop classics to sound new again, suddenly had a complete lapse of judgment on the most 'important' night of his life. It just seems very unlikely to me that the eloquent, savvy, and musically talented Cook would completely mis-judge the expectations for the evening - rousing, vocally-taxing and sappy ballads about being in the most important 'moment' of your life (a la Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like This"). Maybe he never watched an AI finale before but I seriously doubt it. Not only did he fail to demonstrate bravery or ingenuity in how he picked or arranged the songs, he was even uncharacteristically off-key in the second round.

I just don't buy it.

I think, like 'Foot Smell', that DC realizes that there will be more room in the future for his musical abilities, by in coming 2nd.

Having got himself onto the world stage, in front of millions of people, generating name recognition and a loyal fan-base on somebody else's dime, I sensed his "brilliance" waining about 3 weeks ago. I turned to Hubbie and I said, "You know, it would be great if someone like him could win. I mean, look at Daughtry, he should have won." No sooner had the words come out of my mouth than it slapped me across the face: David Cook is trying to throw the contest! Would Daughtry have been as successful if he had won American Idol? Would his alternative-rock edge have been blunted by the manufactured image and songs dolled-out to the Idol winners? It's quite likely. I don't know for sure but I think David Cook thinks he does.

So, I don't think DC will win but, in thinking about it, I'm actually quite happy about that. I eagerly await his first album. Let's hope I'm right and his renditions of "Hello" and "Billy Jean" didn't give us false expectations.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sometimes a fire up your arse is all you need

A couple of weeks ago I received some constructive criticism from my boss about my webinar performance. (Remember, I asked my boss to help me become a better presenter/speaker?) Although it was kind, positive, and helpful on a tactical level, it was still pretty tough to take. I don't like advice or criticism - as I said, I want to figure it out all myself because somewhere deep down I seem to have some bizarre belief that I was born, innately, with all the world's knowledge locked somewhere in my brain.

Can I get a "yeah right?"

Anyway, I had my first opportunity to put her recommendations to work last Friday on a webinar for a prospect here locally. And wouldn't you believe it - I won the account on the same day! I spoke to the President 30 minutes after the webinar and he made the commitment there and then.

Um, wow!

Then, today, I had another webinar with a prospect on the east coast. This one hasn't turned out to be quite as definitive yet but I definitely left the online meeting with the feeling that we are quite solidly in the game to win the business.

Now, this one I would really like to win because I know two of our competitors are going head-to-head with us right now. After losing some big accounts to a specific competitor of late, we've (I've) learned a lot about how to better present our product to address objections as well as how to price our product to be competitive (our pricing models are not apples-to-apples so it's often hard.)

Let's hope this "new sales attitude" carries me through to the close. Cross all your bits for me!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun to free Burma/Myanmar

This video is one of many posted to YouTube each day by the Burma: It Can't Wait campaign. You can learn more here: http://www.youtube.com/user/uscampaignforburma

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pow Wow

This morning my sister-in-law and I took my niece, Adah, to her very first parade.

Adah is 19 months old and just the perfect age to begin experiencing the wonders of "special events", of which I am a big fan (now that there is enough of a distance between me and my special event organizing days.)

Pow Wow Days is an Orangevale Tradition for more than 50 years, beginning as a chuck-wagon parade back in the 50s. Since this is our first year living in the area, this was my first Pow Wow Parade too and had no idea what to expect. So we sat in a shady, grassy, spot (thank Heaven, it's in the 90s at 10am here) and watched the short community parade full of little-leaguers, clowns on lawnmowers, and cheerleaders head down a 5 mile stretch of a major street in the area. The Parade is then is followed by a 2 days carnival in the community park but we were too pooped and put-off by the heat to put ourselves through that.

It was so much fun to watch Adah watching the parade and the parade itself was just cheesy and slow-mo enough not to send her into sensory overload. The floats threw out candy at the kids as they passed and, after some coaxing (made easier by the taste of a Tootsie Roll) Adah was all about heading out into the road with the big kids to grab as many candies as her little hands could carry. By the end of the parade her booty was quite impressive and she bore all the markings of a 19 month-old having a good time - a scraped knee, a stained white t-shirt, and a mouth rimmed by chocolate dribble.

After my sister-in-law and I got our caffeine fix and cooled-off at Starbucks, Adah then head rapidly into a post-sugar crash. Time for a nap!

So much fun!

Adah and her proud Aunty hunt for free candy.

How much candy can a 19 month old carry in one hand? We sure found out!

Adah, making sure she doesn't miss a thing.

... and now we're heading for the meltdown...

Friday, May 16, 2008

Go Olbermann! Go Olbermann!

Holy Crapola! I didn't think this kind of ascerbic critique even existed in the mainsteam media out here. HOW UTTERLY RELIEVING! I only wish voices like this would have emerged earlier, when it was all a less popular position.

For the last 8 years I have been screaming at Bush on the tv with his same punchline: SHUT THE HELL UP!

Thanks to Zee Gurly Life for the find.

105 degrees and 10 pounds

It's 105 degrees here in 'lovely' Sacraghetto... and it's only May!

Opening your back door is liking getting a hot fart in the face. Even at 4:30am this morning, as I headed to the gym, there was little relief: the temperature in my car said 71. The air conditioning seems to never go off even though I have it set to 78 degrees (God, I'm dreading this month's electric bill) and even the dogs seem to look at me cross-eyed when I suggest we go outside.

I thought I had got over the 100+ shock but I realize now that heat tolerance (for me at least) is very closely linked to poundage - my poundage. Since I've gained about 10 pounds in recent months, I'm feeling very uncomfortable in my own skin right now - add to this the oppressive heat, sweating, needing to wear less clothing. Yuck. There is just nothing worse than sweat between rolls of fat. (Sorry if this is TMI but, you know, it's what's going on with me right now so you're just going to have to wear it.) Even though I've been on Slimfast for 10 days, I've only lost a pound or two and it's not far enough fast enough, especially since I'm contemplating all women's dreaded summer ritual: choosing a swimsuit that doesn't make you look like cottage cheese stuffed into a sausage skin.

Maybe this will help: Hubbie and I are going to try a gluten/wheat-free diet for one week next week.

Hubbie has always had stomach issues (it's genetic) and finds it generally hard to keep food in, and I've always had weight issues (it's genetic) and find it generally hard to eat anything resembling a normal person's diet without blowing up like a balloon. So, unless they can create a Fat Bank that allows me to slice off some leg fat and donate it to Hubbie's butt, we're going to try the gluten-free thing. (Incidentally, if you know of such a bank, please forward details pronto.)

E of Gurly Life fame is already on this diet and I've met some others throughout my life who also swear that this has turned their weight and/or digestive system around. So, I'm interested to see if it will work for us.

I've done some reading-up on what we'll have to deprive ourselves of and, although the list is substantially more extensive than this, here's a small taster:

  • Instant chocolate drink mixes - a problem for me since I love my Cadbury's 40 calorie Highlights)
  • Whole wheat, enriched, or white bread, rolls, or bread crumbs - a problem for both me and Hubster since we both love bread. Hubbie particularly is going to have to figure out WHAT to order at the drive-thru now he cannot have a bun or a tortilla.
  • Cereals made from farina, wheat, or those with wheat products or malt added - boo hoo, I love my cereal.
  • Cakes, pastries, commercial frosting, icing, ice cream, sherbet, ice cream cones - are you kidding me? It's 105 degrees people! Yikes, this one could be hard.
  • Cookies, prepared mixes, or packaged pudding containing wheat flour - did you know my nickname is "The Cookie Monster"?
  • Any salad dressing thickened or gravy with wheat flour or products - I'm guessing this just about eliminates all the salad dressings in the regular grocery aisle. Can you believe this? Even salad, that good-ole staple of every woman's pre-bikini diet, could be an issue.
  • All breaded or floured meats, meats containing filler such as meatloaf, frankfurters, sausage, luncheon meats, bologna, or prepared meat patties - Um... so now there's no bun and no meat patty for Hubbie? What will he survive on? Plus frankfurters? Now that's just not fair. Take away my childhood foods why don't you. :(
  • Noodles, spaghetti, macaroni, and other pasta products prepared with wheat or semolina flour - not that we eat much pasta but just the thought of not being able to makes me want to head out to Macaroni Grill this weekend and mac-out.
  • Chocolates, chocolate candy containing malt, candy with cereal extract - haha! No late-night tv-binges for Hubbie. I don't eat chocolate, so I'm gloating here.
  • Soy sauce - waaaaaaaaaaaa? What do we put on the rice?

So, based on this, it's easy to see that this has the potential not to last any longer than our one week trial unless we both experience a substantial physical epiphany. We'll try, but I just don't know.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm still alive! Aren't I?

The question is: did anyone notice my absence?

Yes, yes, yes, I know I'm going to get a ton of emails and comments telling me how you all (all 4 of you) do, actually, read my blog but the reality is that I'm not so riveting as to be missed.

Wah, wah, wah... woe is me.

So, what has actually been going on in Britranting land for the past 2 weeks?

Well, first there was the visit from the parents. A flying visit mind you. They came out to look at homes and found one they wanted to put an offer in on. Well, I say "found"... this house had actually been on the radar-screen since before Christmas. For whatever reason, the owners (the sons of the deceased couple - we think - who used to own it) were stuck on their asking price and, despite 270+ days on the market, hadn't budged in more than 100 days. However, with the help of my wonder-agent Hubby they offered, got the sellers down $50k, and are now in escrow. I know, cripes! After 12 years living 6,000 miles away from my parents, the reality is dawning on me that it might soon be that they live just around the corner. I say this like it's a bad thing, which of course it is not. I actually can't wait for Sunday Dinner at Mum and Dad's house, coffees after work with Mum, and seeing Hubby and Dad puttering around in the back garden together. Of course, there is the immigration stuff to work through still but given that myself and my parents are not terrorists, axe murderers, or cat burglers, I can't think of any reason why they wouldn't get their visa eventually.

Next, work is still very busy. A big deal that we thought was dead in the water actually resurrected itself last week and so now we've got all hands on deck to try and close this baby down. We've scheduled "one more" webinar with them on Thursday. Both me and my boss will be on the demo and our SVP and owners are calling around current clients to get a gluttony of kudos to serve up for desert.

Rather than being nervous about the presentation, however, I'm actually pretty excited. I've been getting some coaching from my boss on my sales presentation skills (remember this was something I wanted to get better at this year) and, while I'm still not enjoying the experience of being critiqued, I'm feeling energized by the fact that I'm learning to get better. Being on this webinar with my boss will be an opportunity to not only watch and observe how she does it but also a chance to flex my own apprenticeship skills. Of course, I'm also very excited about winning the business and getting a big fat commission check. That's a given.

Through this process I have been able to determine exactly what it is about coaching and getting advice that I don't like. What I've found is pretty interesting to me: I feel that, if someone else has to tell/show me how to do it, then it's not an achievement I can claim as my own.

Clearly, this is a pretty narrow vision for success and something I'll have to get over if I'm going to grow in any meaningful way. I totally recognize that, at some point in my life, somebody had to show/tell/teach me almost everything I know in order for me to have achieved anything, so I don't know how I got "here" exactly. But now, when I look at how I have tended to do everything in the last 10 years or so, it totally fits. For the most part, I'll try to figure stuff out for myself, then if I absolutely have to (and only if I have to) Google, read books, go to classes/webinars, watch DVDs, take notes on others... you name it, I'll try it. But the very last resort in almost any case is to ask someone to help me.

I don't have a whole lot of interest in analyzing myself to death on this particular issue. I mean, this is how I am and it's probably going to be how I am for the rest of my life, but it doesn't mean that it has to govern what I do. So, my focus is on just 'ignoring' my reticence, letting my inner-rationale smack me upside the head whenever I start to hear the emotional me claim that I can't claim a success just because I got coaching, and generally getting on with it anyway, the way us Brits like to do. That's one quality I love about the Brits... we just get on with it. Too much self-reflection is for sissies.

Aside from all this, there are just a lot of leads both incoming and prospecting, to follow-up on and the prospecting ones are all hard work. Trying to find meaningful reasons to call or email a prospect vs. just blanket-marketing them with a generic message, takes a lot of time and effort. Ultimately, however, I'm confident it will yield better results it's just that right now it's a lot of work without a lot of reward.

Meanwhile. Hubby is going GANGBUSTERS. He's got deals up the yin-yang! I'm so proud of the wonderful, knowledgeable, skilled agent he has become over the last few years. Like lawyers, Realtors often get a bad rap, but for those who really treat it is a craft there are significant skills involved. Hubby knows his market - inventory, trends, stats - he pays attention to his clients needs, he knows what questions to ask the cooperating agent to help his clients put together an offer that will succeed, he coordinates escrows like a military operation, but more than anything he is a professional, personable, service-provider to his clients. I'm so glad that all his hard work and persistence is finally beginning to pay off. He's getting respect in his office, kudos from his clients, and finally stats on the board to go with it all.

Finally, the weather here has been gorgeous: low 80s/high 70s, a slight breeze. Right now I'm sitting out on my deck and it's a pretty windy evening. The wind-chimes are going crazy, the squirrels are racing up and down the trees driving my dogs nuts (if you pardon the pun), items are scuttling along our deck, and swaying branches with new foliage are rustling loudly. They say it's going to be 100 degrees by Thursday, which I'm not entirely excited about, but so far it's been a wonderful couple of weeks. As I've said before, the last thing I've wanted to do is sit on a laptop and blog.

So, with that, I'm off to appreciate the remaining evening light, maybe read some more of my book.


Thursday, May 01, 2008


How many cannibals could your body feed?
Created by OnePlusYou
Thanks to the author of Hotel California (who can feed a mere 9 cannibals) for this link.
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